Waterloo Regional Police are out with a warning about rental scams, asking residents to be careful.
Since the beginning of the year, the police service has received 41 reports of frauds related to rental scams.
Out of those 41, 32 victims suffered a financial loss, with the total being around $60,000.
Police say while rental scams can happen to anyone, typically, rental frauds increase while younger individuals and students are looking for accommodation, or subletting their current accommodations.
According to police, the most common rental scam is when a fraudster poses as a landlord to rent a property.
"In these instances, scammers fraudulently advertise rentals in a preferred location. They may request the renters answer a questionnaire that is used to obtain personal and financial information. Once the offer is accepted, the renter then sends money to the scammer with first and/or last month’s rent. The victim waits to receive the keys and learns that the address does not exist or that they have been misled." Waterloo Regional Police explained in a news release.
Police ask you to consider the following before forwarding any money:
- Scheduling a viewing and confirm that the property exists.
- Be suspicious if asked to transfer money electronically or wire money out of the country.
- Know what reasonable rental rates are.
- Review your contract thoroughly, and have a friend or family member view it as well.
- Be suspicious if there appears to be urgency or pressure to get the deal done quickly.
- Be suspicious if they are avoiding your questions.
- If the deal appears too good to be true, it likely is.
They also say you should limit the personal and banking information that you provide to the owner or renter.
If the post or rental property is a scam, the fraudster may use your information for identity fraud purposes.
If you have been a victim of a rental scam, contact the ad publisher, file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and contact police.